FROST, Arthur Burdett (1851-1928)
The Shooting Pictures
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1895-1896
Chromolithographs on paper tipped onto card, dimensions: 18 x 23 inches; framed dimensions: 25 1/2 x 33 inches
Framed with archival, linen-wrapped mats, maple molding, and glazed with Plexi-glass
Set of twelve including the following titles: Rail Shooting, Bay Snipe Shooting, Autumn Grouse Shooting, Summer Woodcock, English Snipe Shooting, Prairie Chickens Shooting, Ducks from a Battery, Ducks From a Blind, Rabbit Shooting, Quail-A Dead Stand, Autumn Woodcock Shooting, and Quail - a Covey Rise
Accompanied by the set's original presentation, imitation half calf portfolio (framed) six fascicule covers (one example framed), and text including the artist's supplemental drawings.
Frequently considered one of America’s best painters of shooting subjects active during the late 19th century, Arthur Burdett Frost grew up observing and participating in the pursuits of archery, hunting, and golf for which he is synonymous with documenting. Early in his artistic career he began to focus on illustration and rose to prominence as one of the important figures working during "The Golden Age of American Illustration," enlivening the text of more ninety books and countless, broad ranging pieces appearing in periodicals such as Harper's Weekly, Century, Scribner's, and Life.
It is, however, the artist's ability to capture the details of the quotidian pastoral in which he finds his strongest voice. Here distinctly American farmers, hunters, and fisherman are sensitively integrated into their environment of barnyard, field or shore. Within this milieu Frost reaches his pinnacle with his iconic The Shooting Pictures of 1895 / 96. Commissioned by Charles Scribner’s Sons, this set of twelve scenes present moments from the most popular hunting activities of the time, primarily upland and shorebird hunting. Based on compositions by Frost executed in watercolor, The Shooting Pictures, sealed the artist's reputation as the nation's premier sporting artist.
In order to capture the nuanced rendering of detail and atmosphere effect present in Frost's watercolor templates Scribner’s employed the use of the delicate, French-style of chromolithography. Their quality and fidelity to the artist's watercolors is reflected in the following reminiscence relayed in Henry M. Reed's 1967 The A.B. Frost Book: When the author spoke with a former Scribner’s employee, “He recalls Frost’s visits to the office, usually to pick up his royalty checks. He told me that Scribner’s had the complete set of originals for the shooting pictures framed and displayed along with a set of the prints similarly framed and displayed and if one backed away six or eight feet, you couldn’t tell which were the originals and which were the prints!"
Originally sold by subscription, each of the six parts included two prints and two sheets of text describing the different verities of shooting written by Charles D. Lanier. Each text sheet was highlighted with three of Frost's pen and ink illustrations showing shooting incidents. The plates and text were contained in a large board portfolio decorated with red imitation leather, red ribbon tie strings, and with a Frost-drawn English setter's head on the cover.
The subscription was limited to 2,500 copies. Of the rarity of the occurrence of complete sets retaining their boards and wrapping Reed writes the following: "Over the years, favorite prints were removed from the portfolios and framed, and the remainder of the clumsy wrappers and tissue sets discarded. Today it is difficult enough for collectors to accumulate the twelve color plates, but nearly impossible to find the original board portfolio with the fragile wrappers and text sheets."
Early advertisement for the Shooting Pictures appearing in Recreation, Vol. 9 New York: G.O. Shields, 1898
A further testament to the importance of The Shooting Pictures is the fact the Frost's watercolor Quail – A Covey Rise produced for this series holds the record price for the artist's work at auction, selling in 2015 for $180,000.
*A similar set of these remarkable works of sporting art, though displaying wear to edges of wraps and lacking archival, museum grade framing was sold at Sotheby's, New York on November 29, 2001 for $22,500.
Description compiled by Erik Brockett who, for the past twenty-five years, has enjoyed conversations with enthusiasts and collectors of 19th century visual Americana. He welcomes your visit to view this and other works held by Arader Galleries at 1016 Madison Avenue, New York.
Telephone: 212 628 7625